Preclerkship (Pre-PCE) Advising

Career advising in the first 14-18 months of medical school introduces students to a plethora of career paths. Students are encouraged to explore their interests and career aspirations, address any challenges and obstacles they may face while pursuing their career goals, and learn to maintain a personal and professional life balance.

  • Faculty member standing in front of a screen engaging with a small group of students.
  • Six students gathered in a circle to chat in the Toteson Medical Education Center (TMEC) Atrium. Photo: Grace Fehrenbach
  • A student and faculty member engaging in conversation together. Photo: Lipofsky
  • A group of students gather around a student near a poster display that reads "Emergency Medicine" and "Anesthesiology" on it during Professional Development Week (PDW). Photo: Grace Fehrenbach.

Understanding Yourself

Self-exploration is essential to a satisfying specialty choice. During the HMS Preclerkship (Pre-PCE) phase, students establish connections with mentors and advisors, as well as explore specialty interests via:

Students can utilize the AAMC Careers in Medicine Program for detailed resources on self-exploration and exploring career options. (AAMC Careers in Medicine log-in required)

Individual Career Advising

Dean for Students

The Dean for Students works with students across all years and all Societies to explore ways to enhance or address aspects of the entire student experience, from education to student life to career planning, and works with students to develop innovative solutions to issues and concerns. The Office of Student Affairs features a career advising nook with Match resources, HMS-specific Match data, post-Match surveys, advisor list and specialty-specific resources.

Society Advisor

All students are assigned to an Academic Society and a society-specific primary advisor who acts as a “Primary Care Physician” of the advising team. The society advisor serves as a liaison to curricular, extra-curricular, research, career and specialty advisors throughout a student's journey at Harvard Medical School. Advisors help with finding a mentor and shadowing experiences, specialty choices, and the residency application process: MSPE (Medical Student Performance Evaluation) guidance, obtaining Letters of Recommendation, reviewing Personal Statements, filling out application sections and preparing for interviews.

Office of Recruitment and Multicultural Affairs (ORMA)

ORMA focuses on the recruitment and support of medical students who are from groups underrepresented in medicine (URiM), including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ); first-generation college students; and students who are economically disadvantaged. ORMA fosters an inclusive and respectful environment that is supportive of all students, faculty and staff.

AAMC Careers in Medicine Program

Students can utilize the AAMC Careers in Medicine Program for detailed resources on self-explorationexploring career options, choosing a specialty and preparing for residency. (AAMC Careers in Medicine Log-in Required)

Specialty Mentors

Every year graduates list specialty mentors and advisors within their HMS Post-Match Survey responses. These can be found under each specialty category in the report. This report is not comprehensive and students can reach out to other advisors to help them identify additional specialty mentors. (HarvardKey log-in required)

Shadowing Opportunities

Preclerkship (Pre-PCE) students who wish to engage in shadowing opportunities with clinicians and researchers in specialties of interest may contact their Academic Society, Career Advising staff, the Office of Scholarly Engagement (OSE) or the Dean for Students for assistance.

Group Career Advising

(some links below require HarvardKey log-in)

“Lessons Learned Along the Way”

Annual presentation on professional and personal life balance presented by the Director of Career Advising. 

Specialty Interest Series

A career seminar series that brings clinicians from affiliated hospitals to HMS for panel discussions on a specialty. Seminars are offered approximately biweekly, with representation of 19 specialties covered over the course of the year. A session on alternative medical careers is also offered. The series is moderated by the Director of Career Advising. Specialty specific session information can be found within the Specialty Interest Pages.

Student Specialty Interest Groups

The Student Specialty Interest Groups fall under the umbrella of the Careers in Medicine Program at HMS, in collaboration with HMS/HSDM Student Council. These groups provide students with opportunities to be introduced to and familiarized with their specialty interest(s) as they work to choose a specialty and undergo a successful residency Match. Interest groups host talks and provide opportunities to bring together students and faculty with shared interests in a particular specialty. Specialty Interest Group information can be found within the Specialty Interest Pages.

Specialty Mentoring

Often offered directly following the Special Interest Series seminars, drop-in small group meetings for students with faculty/resident specialty speakers provide career networking opportunities and early exposure to various specialties.

Pathways: Professional Development Week (PDW)

During Year I, students in the Pathways curriculum take part in a Professional Development Week in which they engage in assessment, feedback and self-reflection activities related to clinical skills. These experiences help students at an early stage in their medical education reflect on various components of practicing medicine and provide guidance for developing individualized learning plans. Students complete the Introduction to Careers in Medicine AAMC survey and career assessment during PDW.

Pathways: Finding Your Specialty: A Roadmap on How to Get There from Those Who Travelled the Path Before You

Senior students discuss how first-years can begin to prepare for PCE, how to get the most out of it, how to optimize time on clerkships and beyond, to explore specialty selection, when to think about research or other degrees, and how to make career decisions. Note: First-year dental students have a separate career session at the same time, organized by the Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) Student Affairs Office.

London/Health Sciences and Technology (HST) Career Advising Dinners

The London Society hosts dinners open to HST MD students in all years during the fall and spring registration period. HST alumni present their career paths; students and faculty meet for dinner thereafter.

Health Sciences and Technology (HST) Dinners

HST hosts a dinner each fall and spring, which is open to all HST students (MD, MEMP PhD, & GEMS) in all years. These events provide an opportunity for students to network with their peers, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as hear a talk from a leading innovator in the field.

Conversations in Medical Life Series

This enrichment series is offered twice a year and provides information and ideas to help students flourish in their professional and personal lives.

Clinician Scientist Series

This career series is offered three to four times per year, featuring guest speakers with significant accomplishments in both medicine and research.

Medical Career Paths

Student Interest Series: Alternative Medicine Career Panel

10/10/20 Panelist Information and Session Recording

(HarvardKey log-in required)


Questions asked of panelists:

  1. What opportunities did you participate in and when that developed your interest in the alternative/additional career path you pursued?
  2. Discuss the timing and evolution of the alternative career path you pursued and do you have a suggestion on the best path to make such a career path successful?
  3. How do you balance your personal and professional life?

Combined Degrees: Explore all the possible degree options HMS medical students can pursue while in medical school.


Office of Scholarly Engagement Information Sessions:

(HarvardKey log-in required)

  • Master of Public Health (MPH) Session – Learn about the MPH degree from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and how it fits into the MD curriculum.
  • Master of Public Policy (MPP) Session - Learn about the MPP degree at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and how it fits into the MD curriculum.
  • MD/MBA Session - Learn about the joint MD/MBA with HMS and Harvard Business School (HBS).

Exploring Career Options

Options for medical careers other than clinical medicine

AAMC Resources:

Including options in Administration, Research, Teaching, Military Medicine, Executive, Consulting and Non-clinical Careers